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19B and the DHRS position

It is vital that we find a way of attracting younger members and this is simply not happening. There was no response whatsoever for recruitment to the Board so the Society must work harder to generate new interest.
With 19B and Statfold Barn Trust, and if we can work it out, some sort of permanent base at Statfold – be it an exhibition with perhaps a place to sit for Members in particular, or a museum cum library. If the 19B Trust is successful at the auction, such a rallying point would be a huge asset and 19B would be exactly what we need; bright blue train with a very unusual locomotive would do that. Although 19B is indeed very famous among some railway enthusiasts, the majority have never seen it. At Statfold, the locomotive would be much more accessible to the public than it ever could be at The Beeches and any visitor taking an interest gets pointed towards the DHRS.

Having considered Gordon Rushton’s article below, your Board is keen to support this initiative, but it is very conscious that any donation the Society might make should not, under any circumstances, dilute its current efforts in India: What we have done, and wish to continue to do, in terms of offering engineering support to the NFR at Tindharia, and support for FOSEP in Darjeeling and the Education groups is of great value, and needs to continue.

To ensure we will have sufficient funds remaining for our engineering, FOSEP and education work, the Board is recommending that the DHRS could contribute up to £40,000 towards the funds for purchasing the ‘B’ class: sufficient to have some influence with the Board of Trustees. It is of the greatest importance that the locomotive should not be allowed to be taken permanently abroad.

The views of DHRS Members are urgently needed to help Board reach a decision comfortable with the majority. Please email or telephone
David Mead, Chairman at or 07769 032263 as soon as possible

Our mission statement is
“to promote awareness of, interest in, and support for the DHR”. This project certainly ticks the first two of those boxes, and goes a good way towards ticking the third!

The DHRS Board

Saving DHR Adrian’ s 19B
by Gordon Rushton, The Darjeeling Tank Locomotive Trust

“Opportunity issues in a steady stream that only occasionally flows ‘your’ way.”

Adrian Shooter has unfortunately left us; as host to the horrifying condition motorneurone disease there was no other outcome. It was Adrian who acquired from Indiana USA, locomotive we know as 19B, the only Darjeeling tank that has ever escaped India. Adrian Shooter promptly overhauled and renewed 19B at Tyseley Works, adding a tender and some other ‘bits’ (all of which are reversible. Adrian then built a 600mm ‘garden railway’, the Beeches Light Railway at his Lutyens’ designed grand house in Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire. Two matching carriages were also built to go with the locomotive and it chuffed lustily around the short circuit, giving joy to events for a number of years.

In addition, Adrian, and support team, went off on trips with the locomotive, attending galas and the like. Occasionally the two coaches would attend, or the replica 2ft gauge Parlour Car Carrabasset built to the Ffestiniog Railway loading gauge by Boston Lodge itself.

The outings for 19B proved highly popular, as did the events at Steeple Aston. The locomotive visited the Ffestiniog, and worked the entire line from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog. It even hauled the famous Snowdonian train over part of its 80 mile journey. 19B also visited Leighton Buzzard, Tynedale, Statfold Barn, Launceston, Froissy-Dompierre in France, and other locations. Wherever it went the locomotive thrilled its audience with its feisty performance and attractive DHR livery of blue, and when present, people loved to ride in the two coaches. The nice part about this is that the locomotive is small enough to be transported widely, steams easily and fits on most two-foot gauge lines with its short wheelbase.

Post Adrian Shooter’s passing, the Beeches Light Railway, the accessories, the rolling stock and the Darjeeling tank are all to be sold at auction. The Darjeeling Tank Locomotive Trust (DTLT) has been set up to acquire 19B, so that it may play its part as a legacy to Adrian Shooter, doesn’t leave Britain to languish again inoperable abroad and can be accessible to the public to see, learn and enjoy what machines built in Britain could do and how they worked.

The support team for 19B, who have looked after it for many years now, have through their leader Jeremy Davey (Chairman of DTLT), decided to bid for the locomotive at the forthcoming auction. They feel that they are a natural focus for acquiring the locomotive as they have the knowledge necessary to operate and look after it. 19B will, if acquired go to Statfold Barn, when it can be displayed and run, and also be at a place that has all the skills to carry out successfully the forthcoming 10 year overhaul that is due in 2024.

To gather a team able to raise the money to be successful at the auction in June 2023, Jeremy appealed to some old friends with appropriate skills and experience to undertake the task. First a charitable trust is being set up: The Darjeeling Tank Locomotive Trust. So far this has four Trustees: Jeremy Davies (Chair), Fuzz Jordan (Accountant), Andy Savage, and Gordon Rushton. Fuzz has long contact with the DHRS, and he Andy and Gordon were principals in raising the money in 2000 for the beautiful Taliesin, Single-Fairlie locomotive to be built for the Festiniog Railway Company The DHRS is material to the story, as although it supports the DHR in India, significant opportunities for central and direct connection with the DHR are rare – but here is one!

With this opportunity comes the chance to operate a recruiting proposition at Statfold, on the DHRS website, and on operating days. With the support of DHRS in monetary form, DTLT would bid at the June auction with more confidence. The support team for 19B too would be enabled to recruit for DHRS volunteers more widely, as the aim of making sure the locomotive can be seen and enjoyed by the public is considered of prime importance to the DTLT.

The other part of the linked opportunities is the chance that can be offered of visiting India and the DHR with Darjeeling Tours. The options gained from success at the auction are to enable interested parties to see and hear the locomotive at work, to support the DHR, and to go and visit. This is an unique offer!

The first aim is to bid for the locomotive itself, however acquiring the tender, the coaches and other items judged to be useful are in direct line for acquisition. Although the original DHR locomotives operated with two sanders on the buffer beam, a coal ‘cracker’ in the bunker on top of the locomotive, a fireman and driver on a narrow, unprotected footplate, none of this would be desirable in 21st century Britain. Thus Adrian built and fitted a tender, very much in keeping with the engine. He also fitted various other items to 19B which if the DTLT is successful in acquiring the locomotive may be modified. The tender will remain, as it turns an unsafe operation to a safe one.

It seems to the Trustees of DTLT that we must make a supreme effort to safeguard DHR 19B. Someone can bid for her, acquire it, and spirit it away across the world, not to be seen again – we consider her very much at risk. Were DHRS members to extend some generosity, to help the Trust to bid successfully, then the locomotive will be used to boost the activities and membership numbers of DHRS – the railway you support, suddenly has a precious working example in UK that can be used to make sure due attention is paid to the Society. Furthermore you can go and see her, and ride behind her (maybe even ON her) when she’s working.

1. We need to raise cash for the auction. If you have tens of thousands of pounds to give us we’ll really love to hear from you, but we have had a series of offers of 5-year interest-free loans, and while we are well on to getting what we would like, could do with several more loans of £10k. Most people can’t do this, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to consider it, then please do.

2. More realistically, we need to raise money to repay the loans, and fund the overhaul of the loco that is coming up. A five year, gift-aided, standing order of £25 a month is an economic way of making a contribution: 200 of these would fund the purchase loans, and make a substantial contribution to the overhaul.

3. You can help the Trust by contributing funds, so that we may be successful at the auction, and obtain the locomotive. Any surplus funds we acquire will go towards the forthcoming 10 year overhaul. We have enclosed a leaflet with this issue that invites you to make a donation to this very worthwhile project, and it goes without saying that you will have the Trustees’ eternal gratitude.

Alternatively, please go to the DTLT website: where lots more information and all our forms are available.

This article represents a real opportunity – to be part of the story of a genuine DHR tank locomotive from Sharp, Stewart, Glasgow in 1889. Amazingly it is healthy, in original and in operating condition, and here is being offered for auction. All we have to do is raise the money and take possession – everything else is to all intents and purposes is ‘looked after’.